Katie Stagliano & Tips For Being Overwhelmed

Green background with a cartoon of a cabbage.  On the left, Katie Stagliano is standing in a red dress, holding her Clinton Award.  On the right, "Interview with Katie Stagliano, Katie's Krops.  Youngest recipient of the Clinton Global Citizen For Leadership in Civil Society."

Katie Stagliano is the founder of the non-profit organization, Katie’s Crops. She started the business when she was only nine years old. Since then, Katie has grown the business to be highly successful, and is the author to her book, Katie’s Cabbage. In this post, Katie Stagliano shares her advice on how to deal with those overwhelming feelings that we all get as teenagers, regardless of whether it is from starting our own business, schoolwork, friendships, responsibilities, peer pressure, or extracurriculars.

In this BIT: Katie Stagliano shares her advice on how to stop feeling overwhelmed.

SBOH: Have you ever experienced overwhelming feelings? If so, how did you overcome them?

Katie Stagliano: My journey with Katie’s Krops has been the most amazing, life changing experience, and I am so grateful to get to do what I love everyday. I have bad anxiety, which can often leave me feeling overwhelmed, especially when things don’t go the way I had hoped or planned. I’ve found the best way to deal with becoming overwhelmed is to take a step back from the situation, take a deep breath and try to look it in a different way. Some of our biggest challenges with Katie’s Krops have become our greatest achievements. 

When COVID hit, we were still doing sit down Katie’s Krops Dinners once a month, where 150-200 individuals and families would gather together and share a meal. This was no longer a safe option, but we knew we needed to step up to help those who had been relying on us for meals, as well as meet the growing need. With individuals out of work and kids not receiving the free and reduced priced breakfast and lunches they had previously been getting, we saw an exponential increase in those struggling with hunger and food insecurity. This was something that was very overwhelming to us, as we wanted to ensure that we were there for our community, but also kept everyone safe. After taking a step back and looking at this situation as an opportunity to change the way that we held our dinners, we came up with a solution that allowed us to help even more individuals and families. 

In March of 2020, we decided to switch our Katie’s Krops monthly dinners into weekly meal distributions, where would we prepare, box-up and serve hot, healthy and free meals to individuals through their car windows in a drive-thru style distribution. We recruited a small team of volunteers and utilized the parking lot of the church we had been serving the meals in previously. 

 In 2020, we prepared and served oner 18,000 meals to those in need in the Lowcountry. Cars were lining up hours before our meal distributions began and causing traffic back ups due to the volume of cars waiting in line to receive meals. We also have a team of volunteers who deliver 120 meals to families and individuals who are homebound at the start of each dinner, in addition to the 500 meals that we distribute to the cars in line. Additionally, the men’s and women’s shelters in the Summerville area have come to rely on us for meals on Thursday nights. 

Our meal distributions have been a blessing to so many, and have brought so many incredible people into the Katie’s Krops family. What was once a very overwhelming obstacle, has now become a great blessing. 

Katie Stagliano on the right, wearing a blue tie-dyed "Katie's Krops" shirt.  On the left, there is a young, girl with long, blonde hair.  She is wearing a pink and blue tie-dye "Katie's Krops" shirt.  The two are holding cabbage.

SBOH: What are your top three tips for teens to stop feeling overwhelmed?

Katie: My top three tips for teens to overcome feeling overwhelmed are to

1. First, take a step back, take a deep breath and try to approach the issue from a different angle. Oftentimes there are wonderful opportunities waiting to come out of obstacles if we shift our thinking.

2. Secondly, getting outside and getting some fresh air can help to clear your mind.

3. Finally, I’ve found talking through what is causing you to feel overwhelmed with someone can be incredibly helpful as well. Sometimes a new perspective on an issue can allow you to see something you hadn’t thought of previously. 

Katie Stagliano is standing on the left, in a grey tie-dye shirt, holding a stack of six boxes.  On the right, there is a young boy, with brown hair, wearing a red "Katie's Krops" shirt. He is holding four white containers.
Katie Stagliano standing outside of a car.  She is wearing a blue t-shirt and smiling, leaning in through the window.  In the drivers seat, there is an elderly woman, wearing a blue dress. She is smiling.

SBOH: Tell us more about Katie’s Krops.  How is this making a difference in our world? 

In 2008, when I was only in the third grade, a tiny cabbage seedling from the ‘Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program’ changed my life forever. That tiny cabbage seedling took root in a sunny corner of my backyard and grew into a massive 40 lb. cabbage that changed the course of my life forever.

I knew my cabbage was special and it needed to find a special home. Every night before dinner, my father reminded my brother and I how blessed we were to sit down to a healthy meal. Many families struggle with hunger or rely on soup kitchens for what might be their only meal of the day. One night at the dinner table it came to me, I knew what I needed to do with my cabbage. I wanted to share it with families struggling with hunger and food insecurity.

My mom contacted Fields to Families, a local organization that assists farmers in donating extra crops from their fields to organizations that feed the hungry. They recommended I donate my cabbage to Tri-County Family Ministries, a local soup kitchen in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Everyone at Tri-County welcomed me, my family, and my cabbage with open arms. The director, Ms. Sue, invited me back the following day to serve my cabbage to the guests of the soup kitchen. I had the honor of serving my cabbage to 275 guests on that day, and my life was forever changed. I got to see the face of each and every person my cabbage helped to feed.

At 9 years old, I knew I wanted to do more to help individuals and families struggling with hunger and food insecurity. If one cabbage could feed 275 people, imagine how many people a garden could feed!

Katie’s Krops started in my backyard and has now grown to over 100 gardens growing across the United States in 30 states. Every Katie’s Krops Garden is youth-run. Thousands of children across the country are getting their hands dirty working to end hunger in their communities.

I am incredibly proud of our young Growers and the impact we have made in the lives of people struggling with food insecurity. Since 2009, Katie’s Krops has grown and donated over 500,000 lbs. of produce to those in need across the country.

In addition to our incredible family of young growers, Katie’s Krops also hosts bi-weekly meal distributions, open to anyone in the community at Summerville Baptist Church. In October of 2022, we celebrated 12 years of the Katie’s Krops Dinners and over 50,000 meals served to our neighbors in need.

In March of 2021, we opened the Katie’s Krops Outdoor Classroom, an immersive learning experience located in our flagship garden. Students utilize the garden as a hands-on learning tool and have wonderful teachers come in to share their knowledge with them. Students learn about nature, pollinators and insects, how to grow their own produce, composting, recycling, doing fun arts and crafts and so much more.

SBOH: What gives you a small bit of happiness everyday? 

My small bits of happiness come from my Katie’s Krops Family. I love getting to spend time with the young kids and volunteers in the garden, seeing the Katie’s Krops Dinner guests and just being surrounded by such amazing people. They always make me smile and can turn any bad day around. 

SBOH: What are some words you live by or an inspirational quote? 

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason!

SBOH: What food gives you a small bit of happiness?

Fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden give me small bits of happiness. I love harvesting tomatoes or carrots and getting to snack on them as I work. There is truly nothing better than freshly harvested produce!

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

We hope that Katie Stagliano’s tips give you a small bit of happiness and help you stop feeling overwhelmed.


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